John McCain: Maverick

The last time I cried when a politician died was, well, never.

I feel for Senator McCain’s family of course, but my true grief is for the American people who so sorely need his leadership now…as he has slipped away from us.

Today, in Berlin, I stood in front of the American embassy and saw our flag, my flag, the flag John fought for, served for and nearly died for, at half staff as his body lie in state in Washington. Being so far from home, in a foreign country, standing on land that had once been held behind a wall by the Communist Party, I openly wept.

The Brandenburg Gate, standing beside the American Embassy, divided Berlin into communist East and free West and stands as a historical reminder of the grimness of division. Bullet holes are still in evidence on the columns, standing in silent testimony to those who sought to escape to freedom – and failed.

The remnants of the Berlin Wall stand as silent witness to what humanity can never allow to happen again. How did humans ever hate this much? Ever sanction those atrocities?

As the graffiti on the wall asks WHY, I too wonder why, and how this atrocity ever came to pass. Why didn’t someone, many someones, step up and stop this train before it became an avalanche.

I was sorely reminded of why we so desperately need John’s vision to unite. To refuse to hate simply because villianization is easy.

He respected those with whom he had political divisions – as he did President Barack Obama when John was questioned on the campaign trail about then-candidate Obama’s religious affiliation. The easy answer and easy road was never the path John selected by default.

We need what John stood for. His dignity, his statesmanship, his honor and humanity. John McCain was a Maverick alright, standing tall when others failed to do so.

We need heroes to look up to.

We need hope that we as a nation, can heal. John gave us that.

I didn’t always agree with John.

I didn’t always disagree with John.

I always respected John.

A prisoner of war who was willing to lay his life down for America, every single day for many, many years, through unrelenting torture that surely seemed unbearable, through disfigurement, throughout every humiliation he endured.

For you.

For me.

For all Americans, of every color, faith, gender and every combination of all of those.

We are all diminished by John’s passing.

In John’s final statement that would become his legacy beyond the fact that he asked both Republican and Democratic former Presidents to provide eulogies at his funeral, he said this to the American people:

“Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”

Now that John is gone, it’s up to all of us, personally, individually, to make it so.

Rest in Peace John McCain. You already saw Hell in Vietnam and deserve nothing less.

May each and every one of us carry your torch.

58 thoughts on “John McCain: Maverick

  1. Thank you Roberta for this lovely tribute. I have the same feelings you so elequently expressed. I have stood in the same locations and felt the same feelings. We need more of Sen. McCain’s common sense.

  2. Thank you for the beautiful words. I am a registered democrat but have always respected John McCain (I often agreed with him).

  3. Thank you, Roberta for this post about John McCain.

    America was all the better because of John McCain. I remember watching him him come off the plane when the POW’s we’re released from Vietnam.

    Wish we could get back to Berlin, we ware married there. We were stationed in Berlin 1965-1968, during the height of cold war. We saw up front the tyranny of East Germany (Soviet puppets). A 13 yr boy trying to go over the wall killed by East German soldiers. We were on alert to be evacuated when Czeckoslovakia was invaded. I cried when wall came down. John knew history and championed democracy.

    Above all else, we respected John McCain for his integrity and being able to admit his mistakes. A person didn’t have to agree within, just respect him. May we all take a lesson from him. Rest in peace, John McCain your work is done

  4. So well-said, Roberta. Thank you for sharing. We need more leaders willing to fight for what they believe is right and good for our nation, rather than those willing to fall lockstep in line with party positions. RIP, John McCain.

  5. Well said! I have always respected and listened to John McCain, even if I wasn’t voting for him. He would have made a wonderful President! Too bad he wasn’t able to run in the last election! The world and the country would be a different place. May he rest in peace…

  6. Very moving, Roberta. It is a very sad moment in our history…and not only for John’s death. His wisdom and sacrifice must carry us through. May we all come together to right the wrongs, to accept everyone for who they are, to play fair with our neighbors and the countries around the world. Thank you.

  7. Roberta, thank you for that tribute to John McCain.

    He was one of the “best of the best”; one to teach our children and grandchildren to emulate.

    The history books will speak well of him.

  8. The one thing that made John McCain a hero was not his brashness or bravery. It was his admission that he was not perfect. He understood that all men are mortal and fallible. Time is limited for all of us and compromise is a necessity in everyone’s life. This acknowledgment gave him a unique view of the critical issues which face our country today. Compromise is never easy, but without it, we have no relationships and ultimately, no country. I pray that someone else will have the strength of character to fill the great void that he has left in our government leadership. It truly takes a hero to recognize that there are many points of view for any single issue and that each of them is as valid as your own. Go rest high upon that mountain, Senator McCain. You, above all else, will appreciate the view.

  9. My thanks to you also, Roberta — I am old enough to have cried for JFK and for all we lost with his death. Both men made such a difference in the way we looked at the way our country should be regarded and that everyone should be treated equally. I probably agreed more with JFK than with Senator McCain but the respect I had/have for these two fine Americans will never wane…

  10. I did not always agree with Senator McCain but I respected that he wanted the best for our country. And I very much respect his sacrifice. I remember watching him defend Obama during the election. I cried. He was a very good person and was willing to cross party lines for the benefit of the country. I am so sad at his loss and the loss of anyone to take his place.

  11. Such a beautiful tribute for an Arizona Senator with whom I both agreed and disagreed, but always respected. I will miss him!

  12. I don’t know if I ever agreed with his politics because I never knew that much about his positions. I found out more about his life listening to the eulogies given yesterday in Arizona. His respect for our common humanity and love of our country were two things I learned yesterday. I did know about his service and sacrifice as a capitive in N. Vietnam and for that I have always held him in high esteem. I think Biden did his friend well yesterday.

  13. I thought this was very nice! I liked Senator John McCain & respected him, despite not always agreeing with his opinions. Sadly, right after the day in which you saw the German flag at half-staff, the White House had ITS flag up to the top of the flagpole. But President Trump FINALLY relented & a few days later issued a proclamation to lower the flag until the internment… Now that is sad… https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/us/politics/flag-half-staff-mccain-trump.html

  14. Thank you, Roberta for your thoughtful and well-stated tribute to John McCain. He was a hero, a great American and the kind of person America needs many more of – especially at the executive level. As a fellow Navy veteran (now retired), I appreciated John’s career; Navy and afterward. Fair winds and following seas, John.

  15. Very well said; especially you, Roberta. But, everyone else as well. And, yes, we certainly need him now.

  16. I’m a Democrat, in common with several of those who have commented. I too liked and respected John McCain, am deeply saddened by his death and feel such sympathy for his family. Many of the public tributes reflect his remarkable integrity and strength of character. I was so proud of him when his vote preserved the Affordable Care Act. I spent my life in health care and I’ve known the desperation of families who cannot pay for care. McCain bucked pressure from his own party to do what he knew was the right thing. While our views on policy differed, John’s moral compass was true and he was someone I could trust. Clearly, his friends believed that he had their back’s. No wonder he was so beloved. Add to this another endearing quality: he had a great sense of humor.

    On another note, I’ve been looking for the opportunity to tell you that I deeply appreciate how well you write. You are adept at clearly explaining a new concept; breaking down the parts and reassembling them to sensibly show their relationships. I follow several blogs: you are my go-to person when I need to have a detailed understanding of something like DNA Painter or DNAGEDcom so that I”get it.” I tell you this because writing so well is a terrific skill. I am very grateful that you make the effort and I deeply appreciate it. It makes a difference in my ability to learn and do new things. Thank you.

  17. So many beautiful tributes for a beautiful human being.
    John McCain was understatedly a true American Hero. Kind, Brilliant. Selfless. Those are just a few of a myriad of many other words to try to describe him.
    Love and sympathy flowing to his family and friends as well as all of us who knew the treasure we had in this incredible human being.

  18. Thank you Roberta. Thank you for rejecting the gladiatorial politics of our Congress and political parties today and recognizing the great loss of a statesman John McCain.

  19. Well said. Patriotism is all but gone, except for our veterans, of which I am one, and what’s left of the those who have experienced our country’s ability to unite others in times of tragedy. We are part of a great nation that has endured many adversities. And yet, we are the country people come to in order to find their freedom, thanks to our Constitution and the people of the USA.

  20. Roberta, your articles on DNA are excellent and very helpful and instructive, but please do not pollute them with American politics.

    • I’m sorry you didn’t care for this article. It specifically wasn’t about politics. It was about honor and integrity which transcends borders and has affected every peoples on earth.

  21. In our collective conversations right now, we celebrate a life that has made a difference in our world, and John McCain’s legacy to all of us is actually the very antithesis of the concept of “political,” as we have come to know the term. Human beings have quite a few faults and troubles, even “good” human beings(!) and the fact that some of us have a need to hold onto leaders who are bad for us is one of them, as Roberta so eloquently writes. Roberta having been at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin was quite meant to happen. How could she not write and share such an overwhelming realization of our lives’ having been touched, in so many ways? Each one of us are on this Earth for a purpose, and her purpose (she has figured out–thank goodness) is not only to educate all of us self-absorbed-hobbyists in our chosen area of self-aggrandizement. It’s to also to provide glimpses into social and familial patterns, which describe some of the occasions, and even personal decisions, if you will, which can change history. Change. History. Not only the history that was made by our own ancestors, but the history being made by the ancestors of our own children and grandchildren. Yes: these lessons are about our own personal, powerful, history making. Right now. This post is about remembering Senator John McCain’s legacy. And what all this means. For our world now. And for our descendants. Fair Wind and Following Seas.

  22. I am a registered democrat from Arizona, but always voted for John McCain…We love him here and hope we can replace him with as genuine & a fair person that he was.

  23. Well stated. Sandra

    On Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 11:05 AM DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy wrote:

    > Roberta Estes posted: “The last time I cried when a politician died was, > well, never. I feel for Senator McCain’s family of course, but my true > grief is for the American people who so sorely need his leadership now…as > he has slipped away from us. Today, in Berlin, I” >

  24. I absolutely with everything you said about John McCain. He was so true to his pure beliefs and was committed to bettering the USA, not just his own pocketbook. RIP, or sprinkle some of your moxie on the other Congress folks who have lost their cojones to the current regime that is tearing us apart.

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